Respect patients’ rights: Medical practitioners told

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MEDICAL service providers should uphold and respect patients’ rights to ensure quality health service delivery in the country and avoid developing health complications that can result in the death of many people, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has said.
Reports indicated that last year at least one person died and another had her uterus perforated due to incompetence by a medical doctor. Thirty-eight other doctors were found guilty of incompetence, unethical conduct and unprofessionalism by the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe (MDPCZ).
CCZ deputy executive director, Rosemary Chikarakara said health service providers should treat patients in a manner that does not worsen their medical conditions.
“We encourage health service providers to uphold the Patient’s Charter to ensure accountability and fairness in health services,” said Chikarakara.
The Patients Charter was developed from recommendations by the CCZ and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to offer protection to consumers and improve health service delivery.
Chikarakara said medical service providers should prioritise good service delivery to consumer not monetary benefits.
“Patients have a right to access the health system at the time of need, both as non-paying and paying patients,” she said.
“In the event that a patient has contact with the health service, it is important for them to remember that the Health Service is there to respond to their needs.”
It emerged that last year alone, the MDPCZ received 93 complaints against doctors and of the 93 cases, 73 went through the preliminary enquiries committee while the remaining 20 were dismissed due to lack of evidence.
CCZ said patients should not endure abuse by medical practitioners but should stand against any form of malpractices experienced when receiving health services.
“Patients have access to appropriate grievance handling procedures and the right to claim damages of injury or illness incurred or aggravated as a result of the failure of the health professional to exercise the duty and standard of care required of him or her while treating them,” said Chikarakara.
During his address at the official opening of the First Session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe spelt out that Health Services Act, the Medical Services Act, the Public Health Act and such other legislation would be urgently amended to reflect the provision of health services to the people.
Due to illegal sanctions that were imposed against Zimbabwe by the West and its allies, health services have since deteriorated due to lack of funding, a situation that has led some unscrupulous medical providers to take advantage of the situation to abuse patients.
Most government hospitals were poorly equipped and there was an urgent need to embark on a retooling programme to improve the health delivery system.
Government is mulling to introduce public-private partnerships to rehabilitate and re-equip state-owned hospitals as a majority of them have deteriorated owing to years of underfunding.
The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare recently called for the urgent unfreezing of posts and releasing of funds budgeted for the health sector to effectively respond to issues bedevilling the sector.
Government also announced that there was need to build new hospitals in some provinces where the provincial referral health centres were either failing to cope with demand for health services or had obsolete equipment.

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